Antigone Analysis

Powerful Essays

With reference to at least two literary texts that you have studied, discuss the extent to which they reveal the prevailing values and beliefs of the periods and places in which the texts are written or set.

Antigone, Sophocles and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Edward Albee

Even when literature is categorized as works of fiction, writers will always reflect or defy the views of their societies or audiences, whether to create a connection between the viewers and the work, or to generate an emotional response. This is seen in both Antigone, by Ancient Greek playwright Sophocles, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by American playwright Edward Albee, which reflect the opinions of their real-life cultural
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Antigone, one of the first female protagonists in literature, is considered a tragic heroine whose downfall is due to the tragic flaw of her devotion to her family and her obsession with burying her brother Polyneices. Unlike the traditional Ancient Greek woman, Antigone is outspoken and defiant; these characteristics are both admired and abhorred by other characters in the play. For example, while Haimon praises her ability to stand as a voice for the masses against Kreon’s absolute rule, Kreon sees her justice-driven actions as a resistance against his rule. Antigone’s characterization is emphasized by her foil, Ismene, whose quiet and obedient persona only emphasizes Antigone’s dissimilarity to the average woman. However, Antigone’s obsession with burying Polyneices stems from her desire to obey divine rule, an aspect that was considered imperative in Ancient Greek society. Here, Sophocles stepped away from traditional gender roles and unconventionally used a female protagonist both to honor the Oedipus myth, as well as to shock the audience into grasping the message of following divine rule in Antigone. Sophocles’s characterization of Antigone only emphasizes the female stereotype in Ancient Greek society, as well as reflects the Ancient Greek peoples’ need to obey the rule of the…show more content…
In a situationally ironic act, Kreon orders Antigone to be entombed alive and for Polyneices to be left dead in the open. His inhumane command is a sign of his hubris, as Kreon begins to believe that human law is more important than divine justice. Here, Kreon goes against the social expectations of a king, as the Ancient Greek society believed that Zeus despised superiority and conceit. Sophocles further uses dramatic irony when Antigone refuses for Ismene to be martyred for what she did not originally believe in; this surprises the audience of the play, as Antigone is seen to value family ties above all. Eventually, both Antigone and Kreon are either killed or disgraced due to their respective obsessions with family ties and absolute power. Sophocles goes against the social expectations of Antigone and Kreon to show how both characters’ downfall is attributed to their hubris. The irony, which emphasizes Antigone and Kreon’s arrogance, allows Sophocles to again solidify the necessity of following divine
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